The Role of Print Media in the Digital AgeSpeculative Design
The book Host by Peter James was first published in 1993 on two floppy discs, generating a strong backlash and fears that the author was trying to destroy books as we know them. Nearly 25 years later, this stil has not happened.
Rachel Nuwer’s article published by BBC Fututre talks about the role of digital in sales of print books and the effect the e-book has had on the print industry. While Amazon’s Kindle and the advent of cheap, accessible and comfortable to read e-books have seen a little revolution in consumer preference. The sales of e-books has remained steady over the last year at roughly 20% of books sold, triggering an anxiety about whether this trend could mean printed books would disappear entirely in the long run.
This is a difficult issue to comfortably call as the experience of reading e-books has been steadily approaching the standard set by print, even surpassing it in convenience and accessibility. What’s more, studies have been pointing out to e-books having better legibility, especially for readers suffering from dyslexia and for children, who engage better with more vivid, animated and involving digital experiences. Of course a lot of this comes down to personal preference of readers and for now, printed books do not seem to be losing their dominance – although the proportion of people who do read print has reduced dramatically over the recent years.
In terms of Magazines, Lisa Maclean’s Guardian article takes a very firm stance in favour of print. Pointing out the flaws with the idea that magazine as a concept will completely migrate to the internet, Maclean points out that when Apple launched its magazine delivery service for tablets, it came with a caveat of strong content filters and censorship. This of course didn’t sit well with proponents of creative freedom and integrity, to whom keeping the status quo of print is the obvious choice. The main argument for print in Maclean’s eyes, however, is the idea of tangibility, the permanence of word printed out on physical paper and the sense of ownership of these words that a digital copy cannot provide. Magazine’s stubborn survival in the face of digital publishing is seen in the example of the American Magazine, Lisa Anne Auerbach’s giant publication as described by Greg Beato in his New York Times article.
A non-comprehensive but nevertheless informative summary of the advantages print has over digital publishing was outlined by Forbes. The sense of legitimacy and tangibility exist alongside the branding and marketing advantages provided by printing ads in specialist magazines. Forbes also points out the role of QR codes and their capacity to bridge the gap between print and digital.
I would also like to mention the New Yorker, the print version of which I subscribe to. In terms of breaching the gap as well as the added engagement from a more lively, animated system, Christoph Niemann’s cover for a May 2016 issue used augmented reality to create a vivid, animated interaction from a 2D illustration: